There is finally a light at the end of this ridiculously long tunnel! Carpets are in, electricity turned on and I’m able to move most of my equipment in. It has been a blast to finally open up all the supplies and equipment I’ve ordered and setting up the rooms. As of this writing the only thing left before we can open the doors is putting in the lobby flooring and getting the final inspection from the city!
A topic I have had on my mind the past few weeks that I feel is important to understand and talk about is the purpose of pain. I’m not necessarily talking about the pain we get from a paper-cut or a broken bone but rather the pain that comes on insidiously that may or may not be from an old injury. There are many different types of pain that we experience throughout our lives, both physical and emotional. Sure it can be easy to say that the purpose to pain is to let us know that we are hurting, but what often doesn’t get talked about is how different types of pain can tell us much needed information about the cause of the pain and how to treat it. A sharp pain with movement usually indicates a sprain or strain, an electric or burning pain could indicate nerve damage, and a deep boring pain that’s persistent without movement could be something more serious like cancer. Maybe we only get pain in certain positions or after certain activities. The point is that our bodies are communicating with us and we need to learn to listen and respond appropriately.
Yes, simply put pain exists to tell us that there is something wrong and people often joke that they go to a doctor and say “it hurts when I do this” and the doctor responds “well then don’t do that!” While that is an oversimplified satire for treating pain it is also the basis for this discussion. Our bodies are built to adapt and compensate for all the different kinds of abuse we put them through; its what makes us such a strong species. A common phrase that often gets thrown around is the ‘wear and tear’ that goes on as we go about our daily business, or while performing physically strenuous tasks. What happens then, when our bodies are no longer able to compensate? A condition that I see quite regularly is often caused by years of ‘wear and tear’ and i bet you are most likely doing it right now. The condition is called upper-cross syndrome and it is often caused by years of poor posture such as anterior head carriage, slouched and rounded shoulders and typically accompanied by headaches or neck pain. Sure for a little while it may have felt more comfortable to sit that way, or we didn’t even realize we were sitting with poor posture because for years our bodies have been able to compensate. The physical stress of poor posture eventually becomes too much and that is when we start noticing symptoms. Now we have tight pectoral muscles and weak should stabilizers accompanied by tight occipital muscles at the base of our skull and week neck flexors. In the meantime our bodies recruit other muscle groups to compensate for the weak stabilizers. These imbalances add up over time and become accumulative, leading to stress responses like inflammation and pain. How do we fix it? Well, sit up straight first and stop perpetuating the problem, but that alone won’t reverse the negative changes that have occurred from years of abuse. Stretching the pectorals and strengthening the shoulder stabilizers are are key components in a full recovery plan, add in chiropractic care to address structural changes and we have a road map to a pain free life.
This is just one example of many but it its a tale I encounter often. Our bodies go through a lot and the wear and tear is compounded when we don’t give ourselves adequate rest or nutrition. The body is amazing, but it can only endure so much and when it can’t endure any more we feel the consequences. A major component of chiropractic care is diminishing the effects of daily wear and tear. Getting adjusted regularly and following a self care plan can help keep bad habits from forming or creating lasting changes. Simple daily exercises and stretches can go a long way in preventing wear and tear from becoming chronic pain and adjustments can help fill the gaps as well.
The type of care I promote in my office is patient centered and is designed to not only get you out of pain but help you develop strategies and habits to keep that pain from returning. I want my patients to be their best selves and to learn to care for themselves. What often times gets forgotten in health care is that the word doctor comes from the Latin ‘docere’ which means ‘to teach’. If I am not teaching my patients how to maintain their pain I am failing them as a doctor. My favorite patients are the ones who are enthusiastic about taking care of their bodies and doing the stretches or exercises that I prescribe and those are patients that not only see the most dramatic results but they see them faster and longer lasting.
We should be opening our doors next week and I look forward to meeting and helping you all.